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How to have a cheap Christmas and avoid getting into debt

Budgeting for Christmas and top tips to save money over the festive season

Homemade Christmas cookies

Ways to prepare for a budget Christmas

I love Christmas but I must admit this year I am a little concerned about how on earth we are going to pay for it. After finding myself out of work in March and still yet to find a replacement, Christmas, a time I usually adore, has already started to make me feel stressed out. So, if like me you're finding the thought of Christmas a bit much, I've put together some money saving ideas to help us all out.

Start by setting a budget and stick to it

At the beginning of the month I started a Christmas gift and essentials (Christmas cards, wrapping paper, tree, food items and of course the bird!) list in excel with some estimated costs. After a big gasp when I added it all together, I went back and started cutting back where I could eventually ending up with a figure that I think is affordable for us this year.

Harsh as it may sound, I have had to reduce the number of people we are planning to buy for, we don't have children but we buy for many of our friends kids which unfortunately this year we are just not going to be able to do and I just hope everyone understands.

Try to save a little towards Christmas each week

I'm going to try and save a little each week, one of the ways I am going to do this by using the Save the Change scheme which should help me save £3-£5 weekly without noticing plus I will continue with matched betting and the other ways I try to make money online.

Start a Christmas box and buy one or two items in your weekly shop

From this week and thereafter I am going to add one or two items to the weekly food shopping which I hope will help us spread the cost and mean we don't have such a large food shop to pay for when Christmas week arrives.

Check out the end of summer sales

There are many online end of season sales at the moment, I keep checking them for bargain gifts that I could give friends and family this Christmas, I haven't found any as yet but I keep looking just in case.

Take advantage of special offers

Keep an eye out for special offers and deals such as the annual Boots 3 for 2 gift offer and early chocolate offers in the supermarkets such as Morrisons who are currently offering two tubs of Roses and Quality Streets for £7. Plus don't forget when doing any shopping to check if you can get cashback after all it is free money!

Try to win Christmas

Last year I set myself the aim of trying to 'win Christmas' and spent Autumn evenings entering as many competitions as I possible could. My hard work did pay off and I managed to win advent calendars, £100 Tesco voucher, Christmas tree and £50 cash which paid for our Christmas bird.

This year I've already started entering competitions in an attempt to win Christmas and I have entered a few competitions with prizes that would make great gifts for friends and family.

Have a handmade Christmas

I’m not the greatest at arts and crafts but I’m sure some of you will be and it can be a lovely touch to give a handmade gift. It can work out cheaper than buying a gift as the main investment is your time.

One thing I will be doing, as we will have a little more time this year, is picking sloes and damsons and making our own gins, a lovely task for an Autumn weekend that gets us out in the fields.

Use loyalty card points and vouchers

If you're anything like me you'll have a fair few loyalty cards in your purse. Have a quick check through and take advantage of any savings and offers that you may have built up during the year and use them to help you save money this Christmas.

I've got about £16 worth to Tesco Clubcard points which are going to come in super handy, most of these points have been from food shopping and recycling my used ink cartridges.

I've also been saving up Amazon vouchers from Gener8 and Shoppix which I plan to use for Christmas, I've got £25 ready to spend and hope to increase this a little more in the next few months.

Save money on postage by planning ahead

I have a few Christmas cards which I will be posting to friends and family and my aim is to get organised and post these before the second class postage deadline on Wednesday 16th December as this saves 11p per card.

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